Updated Drugs Strategy 2002


My comment:

Traditional drugs are excluded from Government's drugs policy without comment or explanation. 'Drug' risks (non-traditional drugs) are not analysed in terms of voluntary risks and risks imposed on others and no assessment of benefits is made as recommended by Government guidelines on risk assessment. Scientific evidence that the use of 'drugs' is not harmless is used to justify prohibition, though all activities risk harm. The 'drugs' policy is not assessed according to any Government guidelines on regulatory/policy appraisal.




p.3: Young people are our highest priority. They need good quality drug education, information and advice based on a credible assessment of the damage drugs do, within a framework which makes clear that all controlled drugs are harmful and will remain illegal. To prevent them from turning to drug misuse, they must also be protected from drug dealers and the pressures of living in neighbourhoods where drugs are too often an everyday reality.

p.6: This updated strategy sets out a range of policies and interventions which concentrate on the most dangerous drugs. We have no intention of legalising any illicit drug. All controlled drugs are dangerous and nobody should take them. The most effective way of reducing the harm drugs cause is to persuade all potential users, but particularly the young, not to use drugs. We will prevent young people from using drugs by maintaining prohibition which deters use and by providing education and support: targeting action on the most dangerous drugs and patterns of drug use and the most vulnerable young people.

p.7: All controlled drugs are dangerous and no one should take them. Universal programmes of education and information will give all young people and their families the information and skills they need to protect themselves from the risks and harm of all drugs. It is vital that the message to young people is open, honest and credible.

p.17: Information and awareness: To protect themselves and to enable them to make the decision not to take illegal drugs, young people need accurate information about the dangers and harmful effects of different drugs and why they are illegal.


p.12: The problems of drug misuse are complex and require integrated solutions and co-ordinated delivery of services involving education, intelligence and enforcement, social and economic policy, and health. Tackling drugs requires effective joint working between Government Departments at national level and similar partnership working between agencies at local level.

p.14: But drug misuse does not occur in isolation. It is associated with other problems such as the misuse of other substances (for example, alcohol and tobacco).

p.24: Integrating action on substance misuse within wider Government programmes will deliver reductions in substance misuse alongside higher educational achievement, better health and less crime.


p.16 Many young people will experiment with substances – most commonly alcohol and tobacco – at some point in their lives. Around half will try an illegal drug on at least one occasion, usually cannabis. Whilst risk-taking and experimentation are a part of growing up, there are some risks that are just not worth taking.

p.17: All drug use carries risks, but the use of Class A drugs and the frequent use (i.e. at least 2–3 times a month every month in the last year) of any drug carries the greatest risk. Those young people who do so are the most likely to go on to become problematic drug users.
Research suggests that there are protective factors that reduce a young person’s likelihood of succumbing to problematic drug use – factors such as effective parenting or support from a caring adult, educational attainment, a healthy lifestyle, high self-esteem and early action to tackle problem behaviour before it escalates. But the opposite is also true. Young offenders, homeless young people, school excludees and young people in local authority care, or those living in areas with high levels of drug crime, experience much higher levels of drug-related harm than average.

Proportionality of regulation to risk:

p.22: It is vital that the Government’s message to young people is open, honest and credible. Drug laws must accurately reflect the relative harms of different drugs if they are to persuade young people in particular of the dangers of misusing drugs.

Supply & communities:

p.8: Reducing the supply of illegal drugs and tackling the trafficking of all drugs is key. New initiatives include: Reviewing the impact of interventions on the drug supply chain from international production to distribution within the UK. The Government’s Strategy Unit working with the Home Office and other key departments will undertake a study.

p.10: Where communities are strong, drugs do not take a hold. The highest incidences of drug-related crime, supply and drug-related nuisance occur in the communities that suffer the most social deprivation.

5. Delivery and resources - Targets

p.60: Targets which are challenging but achievable will drive delivery of the Updated Drug Strategy. They are:

• Reduce the use of class A drugs and the frequent use of any illicit drug among all young people under the age of 25 especially by the most vulnerable young people.

• Reduce the availability of illegal drugs by increasing: the proportion of heroin and cocaine targeted on the UK which is taken out; the disruption /dismantling of those criminal groups responsible for supplying substantial quantities of class A drugs to the UK market; and the recovery of drug-related criminal assets.

• Contribute to the reduction of opium production in Afghanistan, with poppy cultivation reduced by 70% within 5 years and elimination within 10 years.

• Reduce drug related crime, including as measured by the proportion of offenders testing positive at arrest.

• Increase the participation of problem drug users in drug treatment programmes by 55% by 2004 and by 100% by 2008, and increase year on year the proportion of users successfully sustaining or completing treatment programmes.